Cathedral Research Paper

Submitted By bobbycalifornia
Words: 2062
Pages: 9

In the short story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver, the narrator is a husband that goes through a life changing experience that teaches him to not be judgmental and also learn to listen. This happens when a blind man, Robert, is invited to spend the night by his wife. The narrator is bothered and feels uncomfortable with the unknown mans stay. Seeing how the blind man’s wife had recently passed away, she is a great friend to the blind man by being there for him as he had in the past for her as well.
Having maintained communication throughout the years by mailing each other audio cassettes, the husband knew that his wife had opened up to the Robert but it made him feel jealous and insecure.
There are many scenes throughout the story where the narrator does not talk much as he is instead observing how well his wife got along with what he describes as “This blind man” (Carver.209). There are also many times when he criticizes the blind man’s personality and appearance. This however starts to change during a dinner scene where the narrator made drinks and they both sat in front of the
TV and talked. It took many drinks and even some marijuana for the narrator to let his shield down and begin to start a conversation with his guest. In a scene where the wife fell asleep, the narrator and
Robert stayed awake and watched TV where they found themselves watching a documentary on cathedrals. When the narrator tried to explain to Robert what a cathedral looks like he saw that it wasnt as easy to describe as one would think and failed and saying “...I’m just no good at it.” (Carver.
225) Robert then decided it would be easier to describe if they both draw a cathedral together and so they do. As he draws, Robert places his hand over the narrator’s hand and follows along with the strokes of the pen. The narrator finds himself drawn into the whole process and oddly enough realizes he is enjoying it. Robert tells the narrator to close his eyes now but to continue drawing. When they are finished Robert tells him to open his eyes and to observe what he has created, but the narrator decides to keep his eyes closed because he feels it is more appropriate. Throughout Roberts stay the reader

then understands how the wife and Robert have maintained a great relationship and communication.
That is because Robert is able to listen and understand. The activity of drawing out a cathedral allows the narrator to understand how the blind man’s disability allows him to see things in a deeper perspective. Not being able to see has allowed him to stay completely focused on what he hears.
Carver exemplifies that perspective is the only way to achieve a deeper understanding experience through the narrator’s actions and self realization towards the end of the story.
Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” takes place in the late 70’s or early 80’s in the city of New
York, where a working middle class couple welcomes their guest. The theme takes place in one evening. The era in which this short story was written is indicated by the many clues within the text. The narrator asks “Was his wife a negro?”(Carver.212) not as though the narrator cared but because of the times Carver lived in and the inequality that still remained in the 80’s, when the story was written. The
70’s were a time of heavy drug and alcohol use as many people who were growing up in that era became alcoholics. Perhaps the characteristics of the narrator were a reflection of Carvers own. The black and white TV set is mentioned which was typical still in the 80’s and color TV was barely taking place. This demonstrates how the narrator had everything he needed to live a happy life, yet he struggled to obtain a good connection with his wife.

Carver uses a developing character as the protagonist. The husband, who is not named but is

known as the narrator, is seen as this developing character and towards the end of the story